The Chicago Fire have finally earned their tenth win for the current MLS season and are preparing to face the Philadelphia Union on Aug. 12 at Toyota Park. Their last match provided several important lessons that they will have to apply to earn a playoff spot. Since the Fire only have 12 games left, they cannot afford any mistakes.
Lesson 1: Possession Must Continue to Improve for the Chicago Fire
The win on Aug. 4 against Toronto FC showed a rare phenomenon for Chicago fans. The Fire actually dominated possession during the match. The team has struggled with this in previous games, but the Chicago Fire must continue to improve possession to earn a playoff spot.
Lesson 2: Learn Not to Rely on Marco Pappa
The ongoing rumors surrounding Marco Pappa's possible departure from the team are one reason why the Fire have to work on replacements. However, his performance on Aug. 4 showed a second reason because it revealed the inconsistency that often plagues him during matches. In the first half, Pappa made a mistake that allowed Toronto's Ryan Johnson to score a goal. Although he found redemption in the second half with a goal in the 64th minute and the final score of 2-1, his mistake could have cost them three points.
Lesson 3: Continue Integrating the Newcomers
Recent additions to the Chicago Fire's roster played a major role at the Aug. 4 game. The debut of Alvaro Fernandez was a positive step for the team. Although his chances did not result in goals, he showed potential. Sherjill MacDonald replaced Dominic Oduro in the second half and also made attempts to score. I think head coach Frank Klopas may be considering Sherjill MacDonald in the starting position and placing Dominic Oduro on the bench. The only problem continues to be MacDonald's fitness levels.
Lesson 4: Focus on Getting 3 Points
The Chicago Fire have 12 games left this season, so their time is limited for earning a playoff spot, and earning three points is crucial at every match. Although getting a tenth win in 2012 was an important step, the team is still in fifth position in the Eastern Conference and trailing the Houston Dynamo by five points.
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Lana follows MLS, UEFA and FIFA. She has been a faithful fan of the Chicago Fire since 1998. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.